FULHAM 1, MAN CITY 2
Manchester City arrested their faltering start to the campaign with a hard-earned Barclays Premier League victory at Fulham.
A late goal from substitute Edin Dzeko earned a terrific win because Fulham had lost only once in their previous 13 games at Craven Cottage.
And City, without a win in their last four league and cup games, knew that a failure to pick up three points would represent their worst run for four years.
“We deserved to win and had lots of chances. It was a difficult match, especially when we went 1-0 down. The guys played very well and I am very pleased,” explained City manager Roberto Mancini.
City, who had Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero reunited up front, could not have made a worse start as they conceded a ninth minute penalty when Pablo Zabaleta was judged to have fouled John Arne Riise.
Mladen Petric scored from the spot as City were confronted by another test of character.
They, too, may have been awarded a penalty when Tevez claimed he was pulled back by Riise.
City were twice denied by the brilliance of Cottagers’ keeper Mark Schwarzer as he dived on one scrambled goal attempt on the line and also made a great stop to deny David Silva.
The equaliser came shortly before half time when a shot from Tevez took a sizeable deflection off Silva. Schwarzer made a great save low to his right, but Aguero was lurking to slot home the rebound.
The second half saw City claim another penalty as they were convinced Steve Sidwell pushed Zabalata in the box while Aguero headed narrowly wide.
Fulham also had chances to regain the lead when Bryan Ruis had a shot well well saved by Joe Hart and they, too, had a shout for a penalty as Zabaleta clearly handled the ball.
City’s match-winning goal came in the 87th minute from Dzeko with his first touch – he had only been on the field for 50 seconds.
Riise could only direct a defensive header to Dzeko who produced a deft turn before lashing a shot into the roof of the net.
It was his fourth goal of the season, but three of them have come off the bench.